Upon the invitation of the Assistant Foreign Minister for Multilateral Affairs and International Security, through the Egyptian Embassy in Moscow, The Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs participated in the international forum organized by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) for the purpose of cooperating with their Russian counterparts (Track Two). The event took place between the 19th and 20th of April, 2016 in Sochi, Russian Federation, under the slogan (The Role of Civil Society and Public Diplomacy in the Further Development and Expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization).
On the Egyptian front, the participants were Dr. Ahmed Kandil, Director of the Energy Studies Program at Al-Aharm Center for Political and Strategic studies, Mr. Yousry El Gharbawi ,director of the center’s election program, and Mr. Abdel-Kader Farid from the Egyptian Center for Combatting Terrorism.
Representatives from 26 civil society organizations participated in the forum along with member state and observer status state representatives including such from Eurasia, Asian states, Syria, and Israel with Egypt being the only participating African State. Ukraine and East Europeanstatesdid not participate while Western European states and the Americas were not invited.
The Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Regional Governor and Mayor of Sochi participated in the opening ceremony. In addition to the opening session, this portrayed the level of cooperation between member states, and observer status states, as well as dialogue partners. The participants were then divided among sub-sessions taking place over the course of two days corresponding to discussions concerning the following principal issues:
1.World Order, Safety and Combatting Terrorism
2.Economics and Environmental Protection
3.The interaction of Cultures, Religions, Science and Education
Dr. Mounir Zahran participated in the first group discussing the following points:
A-The scrutiny of the Security Council’s role and the reform of the United Nations in the light of Council's permanent five members exercising Veto excessively especially by the United States and Russia. The permanent five members have exercised their Veto power three hundred times, thus hindering the efficiency of the council. France, China, and the United Kingdom have collectively exercised the least veto power.
B-The role of International associations like BRICS, the Southern groupings, and other regional organizations such as, SCO and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). He mentioned about the control of the Bretton Woods institutions by the G7 nations, and the difficulty in reforming the international monetary system with the increase in shares and voting rights in all of India, and China in decision-making within their limits.
C-The poor coordination between member states regarding the fight against terrorism, which various members have been impacted by, most notably China, Russia, Tajikistan and Pakistan as well as Afghanistan (observer-status). The importance of resolving the root of this conflict was also discussed in the sense that member states must establish dialogue with terrorist organizations in order to confront ISIS’ media campaigns.
D- Certain non-state actors, some of which engage in acts of terrorism, are driven by governmental support. Examples include ISIS and the Al- Nusra Front with evidence of support from states such as the US, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.
The second and last days of the event witnessed the adoption of The Sochi Declaration by consensus after amendments were submitted by The Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs.